Having a side business is no longer just a nice little benefit, it’s becoming mandatory if you want to get ahead today. It eases some of the pressure of only having one or two set paychecks per month that don’t increase. You’re able to set your own rates, charge what you want for your products, and determine your own destiny.
If you’re a marketer by trade, or have marketing skills, then you’re in luck when it comes to transitioning your marketing chops into a potentially lucrative side business.
There are so many marketing skills you can take from a marketing-related job, apply them outside of work for others (or for growing your own project), thus building a profitable marketing side hustle.
Just avoid getting yourself into trouble. If you are starting a side hustle while still working full-time, be sure you are doing it within legal and ethical guidelines to avoid upsetting your company. The last thing you’d want to happen is to get fired from your full-time job if that is still your primary source of income.
We’re going to be talking about five distinct groups of marketing side hustles here today, all with slightly different applications for how they can be used within creating your own side hustle — many of which will be related to starting to freelance.
Paid Marketing & Media: Side hustles that involve managing your client’s dollars and getting their name out there through paid advertising channels.
Non-Paid Marketing: Side hustles that don’t involve the client spending any additional dollars on media (only paying you), but still getting the word out through effective marketing channels.
Creative Marketing: Side hustles that you can build using your creative and design skills, if you’re lucky enough to be blessed with those.
Web/Analytical: Side hustles where you help people build and develop a web presence, create new features, launch products as well as helping them implement, understand, and dissect data effectively.
Sales: Side businesses where you’ll help people generate leads, establish a sales process, increase conversions and get more sales through your own hands-on selling activities — not by creating ads or landing pages.
As you can see, no matter what kind of marketing experience you’ve gotten in full-time roles, you can take many of those and leverage those strengths to work for yourself on the side (and full-time eventually).
1. Paid Search (AdWords) Setup and Management
If you’ve worked at a marketing agency in your past on the digital side, you may have had clients run paid search campaigns through platforms like Google AdWords. Fortunately, if you need some side income, optimizing paid ad campaigns is a lucrative marketing skill you can apply to help other businesses.
For one, you can take your AdWords skills that you use in your full-time job and leverage them to help small businesses in your area show up on Google searches. It’s as simple as telling a business owner you can place them at the top of search results, and that they only pay when somebody clicks the ad. That makes it easier to sell through (for you) because unlike other forms of advertising, you’re only paying for clicks and not just for impressions (having your ads show up).
2. Social Media Advertising Management
If you’re able to create unique targeted audiences and have a knack for social media advertising, you can go find clients on the side and charge them monthly fees to manage paid social media campaigns on networks like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter for them.
It’d be hugely beneficial to also offer the actual creation of the social media ads, using their existing branding assets, or team up with a graphic designer and split the profits. Social media advertising can be incredibly profitable for businesses, but they don’t necessarily know how to do it effectively without wasting marketing dollars.
3. Native Advertising
There are websites out there that allow businesses to post sponsored content that looks native to the site itself. This is called native advertising. It’s a way to post sponsored content that looks organic, and less like an advertisement.
If you’ve learned how to find, evaluate, and run these types of advertising campaigns, there are businesses you can reach out to who would be very interested in putting your marketing experience to good use with booking native campaigns. On top of that, if you’re able to actually produce the content for the native ad spot as well, that’s even more money you can make from this marketing skill.
4. Paid Influencer Outreach, Coordination, and Management
Another marketing skill you can use to turn into a side hustle is finding influencers who are good fits for brands. Maybe you are a brand whose target audience is very active and into athletics. You might know the best ways to reach out to fitness bloggers and fitness Instagram accounts that have huge potential for promotion.
Not everybody is great at finding these sorts of niche influencers, let alone perfecting the art of following up in a manner that gets their attention. If you are, you can use that to manage influencer programs. Influencer programs take a lot of work and you can charge a monthly fee to take this off of somebody’s plate. If they see good results, they will keep using your expertise going forward.
5. Social Media Account Management
Lately, as I’ve been managing my own website and trying to be relevant and up-to-date on all channels. I can tell you first hand: it would be nice to have somebody with these marketing abilities to help me run my social accounts. I just don’t have the budget (yet)!
However, there are companies out there who do have the budget, and simply don’t have the time, resources, or tools for running social media accounts and making them hyper-relevant to their audiences. You can offer Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Snapchat, and more.
Base your fee for this on the amount of time it will take you per month, multiply that times a fair rate, and there is your monthly retainer fee. However, you need to keep in mind, at least starting out, that if your monthly fee is up in the tens of thousands, the business could just as easily hire an agency to help them for that cost. So don’t under-price yourself, but definitely stay reasonable.
6. Search Engine Optimization
Taking blog creation a step further, you can put your SEO marketing skills to good use by offering a whole suite of SEO services. However, I have to warn you. The SEO freelance space is extremely crowded and companies are getting more and more cynical.
It’s often a hard sell, and even harder if you get a client, because if you don’t understand SEO, you don’t understand how long it takes to see results. From a business owner’s standpoint, if you hire somebody to do SEO, and after a month you see no difference, your logic might tell you it’s not working and you should fire the person (which is an unrealistic expectation).
However, if you’re a good SEO freelancer, you have a portfolio of examples, the ability to set clear expectations for timing, and you have a wide range of services as opposed to just writing articles stuffed with keywords. Successful SEO freelancers with strong marketing skills can turn their side hustles into full-time jobs very quickly because it’s a really profitable niche if you can reliably deliver results and get referrals based on your great work.
7. Blog Post Writing
I’ve found through my own personal research that a lot of companies have blogs (meaning they know it’s important to have one), but they haven’t been updated in 5 months — or they’re publishing short, 300 word posts that are read by no one.
When I go to a company’s blog page and see the last post is from a year ago, I see dollar signs. This basically means the company either de-prioritized it or that they simple don’t have the marketing skills, time to allocate or didn’t see quick results.
If they de-prioritized it, explain to them why they shouldn’t. If they don’t have the time, take it off their plate and manage it for them. If they didn’t see results, explain to them what’s wrong with their past effort and how you could make it better. Try to think through every scenario and offer your expertise as to how you could improve it. This is something Ryan does a great job of with his content marketing consulting.
Companies love infographics, just like our brains do. They explain things in a visually appealing manner and are very shareable online.
If you’ve got the marketing chops and design chops to make infographics, this can definitely fit into a content marketing strategy, because of the high shareability of infographics. With a high potential to be seen by many people, you can easily make $300-$500 (or much, much more based on experience) for one infographic depending on the client’s budget.
9. Social and Digital Ad Creation
Companies know “digital is important” and “Facebook is where it’s at.” You hear it all the time. But, the problem is, they don’t all know how to create effective ads for these mediums.
So their social ad campaigns don’t do very well, and then they no longer believe in the success of the platform. If you have the marketing chops to create killer, converting creative for them, you can easily turn social and digital ad creation into a profitable and successful side hustle.
10. Logo Design
Maybe a company doesn’t want to fully re-brand themselves with an expensive agency.
Maybe they’re just starting out and have zero image. Whatever the case is, if you have the marketing skills to create nice, clean, and professional logos, you can easily charge $500 or more for logo design.
Companies know the importance of a logo, and they know it’s a long-term investment. That’s why they are willing to spend and deal with the cost of a professional logo. You can take your marketing chops in the world of design and start a side hustle where all you do is create logos for people and businesses. If word spreads that you did a great job, you’ll get referrals and you’ll kill it.nOh! And here’s a podcast interview that talks about how to become a freelance designer and charge for logo work.
11. Website Development
This one is pretty straightforward: building websites. If you can do a custom website for somebody from scratch, listen to their ideas, and execute on them, you can make thousands of dollars easily. Another benefit is that you can work on this during evenings, weekends, and early mornings. You can usually operate on your own schedule as long as you get it completed by the deadline.
There is huge upside and potential profit by building websites on the side. All you have to do to get started is make a quick portfolio, start reaching out to potential clients, put those marketing skills to use, and pretty soon you can land your first client as a freelance web developer.
Alternatively, if you can pick a good website theme and customize it, you can still make a killing by just tweaking themes for clients.WordPress is probably your best bet if you want to pick an existing theme and customize it for business or professional use. They have a lot of robust features but remain user friendly.
12. Cold Calling
This one is pretty straight-forward. You could easily be a cold caller for a business that’s trying to generate leads and sales if you’ve got the marketing skills (and stomach) for it. Many people are afraid of cold outreach, especially when it comes to picking up the phone and dialing a prospect, which is a benefit to you if you’re a people person.
You can charge a fee based on commission, or just a flat fee to be doing the work. Whichever you prefer and however you prefer to work. Commission is likely the easier sell-through, because it’s a pay-for-performance type of model.
As you can see, there are ways to turn basically any marketing experience into a side business with the right combination of creativity and hustle. The overall theme here is to not feel like what you’re doing in your full-time role isn’t beneficial.
There is somebody out there who needs your marketing chops. Decide on a niche that you want to focus on, get really good at it, build a small portfolio, and do great work to get referrals.